Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2022: Adult Education Virtual School System

Fund Code: 538


The purpose of this competitive grant is to establish and support a statewide Adult Education Virtual School (AEVS) system branded as MassLinks. All services must be delivered virtually.

The AEVS provider will recruit, intake, orient, enroll, instruct, assess, advise, and offer supportive services and post exit follow up to adult learners who are not served by programs currently funded by ACLS and/or whose need for services are not met by programs currently funded by ACLS.

Additionally, the provider will market, develop, manage, implement, and evaluate the AEVS.

The AEVS will:

  1. assist eligible individuals in attaining a secondary school credential and in the transition to postsecondary education and training, including through career pathways;

  2. assist eligible individuals to become literate and obtain the knowledge and skills necessary for employment and economic self-sufficiency;

  3. assist immigrants and other individuals who are English language learners— improving their reading, writing, speaking, and comprehensive skills in English; and mathematical skills;

  4. assist eligible individuals who are parents or family members to a) obtain the education and skills that are necessary to become full partners in the educational development of their children and b) result in sustainable improvements in the economic opportunities for their family.


ACLS has not yet developed AEVS specific policies. While designed for Community and Adult Learning Centers, the FY19-FY23 Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Education should serve as a reference guide. The state reserves the right to (1) set policies and requirements to support the purpose and intent of the grant and (2) identify and apply state and federal regulations as needed.

The AEVS system provider will:

  1. manage educational operations and deliver all services virtually to adult students across the state of Massachusetts.

  2. deliver a program design which includes synchronous instruction and asynchronous instruction.

  3. serve ASE students (NRS Levels ABE 5 and 6i). Additional NRS Levels to be proposed by the applicant.

  4. serve a minimum of 50 participants on a monthly basis.


Eligible agencies/organizations that have experience in providing virtual adult education and literacy activities and/or services are eligible to apply.

Eligible Agency: An organization that has provided virtual adult education and literacy activities and/or services may include:

  1. (A) a for profit entity;
  2. (B) a local educational agency;
  3. (C) a community-based organization or faith-based organization;
  4. (D) a volunteer literacy organization;
  5. (E) a public or private nonprofit agency;
  6. (F) Community Colleges or other higher education institutions;
  7. (G) Vocational education institutions;
  8. (H) Non-profit education, training or other service providers;
  9. (I) a library;
  10. (J) a public housing authority;
  11. (K) a nonprofit institution not described in any of subparagraphs which has the ability to provide services to eligible students;
  12. (L) a consortium or coalition of the agencies, organizations, institutions, libraries, or authorities described in (A) through (J);
  13. (M) a partnership between a for-profit entity and an entity described in (B) through (J).
Funding Type:



DESE anticipates that approximately $1,000,000 will be available statewide to fund the AEVS through state appropriation.

However, please note, that the final budget award will be based on the providers budget and proposed minimum number of students served, in alignment with the following funding parameters for Community and Adult Learning Centers.

During the current funding cycle, ACLS grants base awards for the provision of services during the academic year (i.e., September to June) based on a cost per student enrollment of between $2,800 and $3,500 for community adult learning center grants. Awards are calculated based on the approved cost per student enrolled multiplied by the average monthly student enrollment (e.g., 50 ABE students + 150 ESOL students = 200 enrollments at $3,000 per student = base award of $600,000). We anticipate upward adjustment to these funding levels in future years due to increase labor and service costs. Accordingly, AEVS applicants that provide sufficient rationale may propose budgets based on a cost per student enrollment up to $4,500.

Funding is contingent upon availability. All dollar amounts listed are estimated/approximate and are subject to change. If more funding becomes available, it will be distributed under the same guidelines that appear in this RFP document.

Fund Use:

The provider selected would operate as a service provider under Title II Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) funding whose charge is to provide adult basic education and English language skills acquisition to eligible students.

Eligible students are:

  1. at least 16 years of age; and
  2. not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under state law, and
  3. do not have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent and have not an equivalent level of education or are basic skills deficient or are English language learners.

Preferred Student Populations include:

  • adult learners never enrolled in a DESE funded AE program;
  • adult learners with physical or other challenges that make it difficult to physically attend existing adult education program;
  • adult learners who need to complete less than 4 subtests to obtain their HSE credential;
  • adult learners in rural communities;
  • adult learners with learning differences whose specific needs are not met in their current instructional setting;
  • adult learners who are in need of instruction which is purposefully developed for those with learning disabilities;
  • Students who are pregnant or have a child/students with specific childcare needs that prevent them from attending in-person services;
  • Students who have been set back in their education due to the pandemic and want to complete their HSE credential.

The provider is expected to deliver an educational experience that is of similar or superior quality when compared to adult education in-person learning.

Applicants should use the FY19-FY23 Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Education as guidance until ACLS has developed policies specific to the AEVS System. Funds must be used to:

  1. provide all virtual services described in the grant Purpose
  2. develop and deliver virtual instructional services that are aligned with the Massachusetts Adult Education standards: CCRSAE and MA ELPS
  3. deliver instruction that incorporates
    1. cultural competence
    2. diverse audiences
    3. need for multilingual support

Funds may not be used to support in person activities.

Project Duration:

Upon approval – 6/30/2022

Grants may be conditionally renewable for two additional years (FY23 and FY24) subject to satisfactory performance and the adult education appropriation of state funds.

Program Unit:

Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)


Paula Jurigian

Phone Number:

(781) 338-3837

Inquiries may be submitted for posting to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) mailbox through Friday, January 7, 2022 at and all answers will be posted to the Adult and Community Services webpage.

Telephone inquiries for assistance utilizing the FAQ mailbox may be directed to the ACLS receptionist at (781) 338-3850.

Bidders' Virtual Conference:

Prospective applicants are invited to a Virtual Bidders' Conference to be held on:

Friday, December 17, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Meeting ID: 971 174 5866
One tap mobile
+13017158592, 9711745866# US (Washington DC)
Meeting ID: 971 174 5866

Date Due:

Friday, January 28, 2022
Proposals must be submitted electronically to the Department no later than 5:00 p.m. on the date due.

Required Forms:
Additional Information:


Submission Instructions:

Proposals must be submitted electronically by 5 pm EST on January 28, 2022, via the WizeHive Online Portal.

Applicants will create an account and be able to enter the portal for the RFP. Once you have created a user account and entered the portal, you will be asked to:

  • Enter basic information.
  • Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required. You will not be able to submit your grant unless you include data or uploads in all required fields.

Please note that you are presented with two choices at the bottom of the submission webpage: <Save Draft> and <Submit>. Once you choose Submit, you are no longer able to make edits or change the files you wish to upload. Save Draft should be used routinely until you have completed the entire process and are certain you are ready to send your materials submission to us.

Also, please note that the Part II-Budget is an Excel for PC document. Please do not work on this document in Excel for Mac, as it will not render properly, even if you subsequently save the document in a PC environment.

If problems occur while using the portal anytime, or if you encounter technical difficulties with the Budget Workbook after January 7, 2022, contact Paula Jurigian .

Submit a response to all narrative prompts as applicable. (Note: The narrative response may not exceed 50 pages.)

Applicants are required to provide page numbers on every page of the narrative response. All narrative responses must be in a font no smaller than Arial 10 font, with 1" margins on all sides.

Pages that exceed the above page limits will not be reviewed and scored.

Required forms, appendices, and the Budget Workbook are not included in these page limits.

Note: DESE reserves the right to conduct an interview prior to award.

Awarded Recipients: Upon award, recipient will be required to enter the approved budget and Part I in EdGrants. Once selected, recipient will be contacted with further instructions on the process.

i Technical Assistance Guide for Performance Accountability under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act , Appendix B

Last Updated: December 8, 2021

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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